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Happy Birthday Jon Rauch

And Len Matuszek, Jason Phillips and Matt Shoemaker

Philadelphia Phillies v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images

Jon Rauch turns 41 today.

Rauch was our closer for the 2011 season. He didn’t have the best of years. A 4.85 ERA, 11 saves (5 blown saves) in 53 games. He gave up 11 home runs in 52 innings. He had 14 walks and 36 strikeouts in 52 innings. Not really the strikeout numbers you want from your closer.

He missed time getting his appendix removed and with torn cartilage in his right knee.

But, he was easily the scariest looking reliever we have ever had. This was his most famous moment with the Blue Jays:

At 6’11 and 290 pounds, I wouldn’t have wanted him charging at me. John Farrell is not a small man but he looked small trying to wrestle Jon away from the umpire.

Rauch had an 11 year MLB career, playing for 7 different teams. He pitched in 556 games, just 11 starts, had a 3.90 ERA and 62 saves. His best years were with the Nationals. He played 5 seasons in Washington, with a 3.24 ERA in 245 games.

Happy birthday Jon, hope it is a good one.

Len Matuszek turns 65 today.

You could be excused if you don’t remember he was a Blue Jay. We traded for him at the start of the 1985 season, he played in 62 games, batting .212/.259/.318 with 2 home runs, splitting time between DH and first base.

Then, in early July, he was traded to the Dodgers for Al Oliver. Oliver, who was 38 and near the end of a very good 18 year career, didn’t do much better than Len, slotting into the same spot, left half of a DH platoon. He hit .251/.282/.374 with 5 home runs. We made the playoffs for the first time that years, losing out to the Royals in 7 games in the ALCS. Al had a very good series hitting .375/.444/.500. He was so good the Royals came up with a plan that is much like the ‘opener’, starting a right-hander, to get Oliver in the lineup, going to a lefty to get the Jays to use the right-handed halves of their platoons and then going with Dan Quisenberry (their closer) knowing he wouldn’t have to face Oliver (and the Jays other lefties). Quisenberry, a submarine style pitcher, was terrific against right-handed batters but not so good about lefties. In a longer series the Jays would have figured how to best handle this strategy, but in a 7-game series, they didn’t have a counter and would lose the last 3 games of the series.

Matuszek had a 7 year MLB career, playing for the Phillies, Blue Jays and Dodgers. In 379 games he hit .234/.309/.405 in not really what you want out of first baseman.

Happy Birthday Len, hope it is a good one.

Jason Phillips turns 43 today.

Jason was backup catcher for us in 2006-2007. He played in 80 games and hit .219/.271/.302 backing up Gregg Zaun.

He had a 7-year MLB career, hitting .249/.314/.370 with 30 home runs in 465 games, playing with the Mets, Dodgers and his last two seasons with the Jays. My memory is he was a good guy and reasonable defensive catcher, who could also play first base.

He was a bullpen catcher for us in 2016 and coached in the minors for the Yankees last year.

Happy Birthday Jason

Matt Shoemaker turns 33 today.

You know the story, he made 5 terrific starts, with a 1.57 ERA and then tore his ACL and his season was over. If you need a reminder of the play (there is a reason why teams don’t want their pitchers taking part in rundowns):

I’m hoping we bring him back next year.

Happy Birthday Matt. Hope it is a good one.